With the election of Donald Trump as President and solid Republican majorities in the U.S. House and Senate, President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, is seen as a very likely target for swift repeal. After all, Republicans have made the promise to repeal Obama’s signature reform law central to the last three general election campaigns. But as Salon’s Matt Rozsa reports, the plan to repeal Obamacare is looking more convoluted every day:
Republicans are be determined to pass an Obamacare repeal bill as soon as Donald Trump becomes president in January, but after that, everything seems to be up in the air. And so, in true free-market fashion, they’re prepared to give the health insurance industry a massive bailout to counter the problems they’re going to create. [Pols emphasis]
Republicans in congress are talking to health insurance companies, The Hill reported Thursday, hoping that they can prevent a collapse of the insurance market if and when they repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The idea is for the Trump administration to pay any insurance companies that suffer heavy losses as a result of Obamacare’s repeal. This approach may prevent premiums from rising and patients from being dropped by their plans (maybe), but it would certainly be viewed as a bailout to insurance companies — one of the very charges Republicans made against President Obama when he was trying to pass the Affordable Care Act.
That Republicans are settling on a plan that would give insurance companies an enormous bailout to weather losses caused by the ACA’s repeal is particularly galling here in Colorado, where Sen. Cory Gardner has grandstanded against the idea of “Obamacare bailouts”–like the loans provided to Colorado HealthOP, the Obamacare insurance co-op forced to shut down last year after federal funds to keep the operation solvent while starting up were cut off. Despite Gardner’s role in cutting the co-op funds off, Gardner mischaracterized the “bailout” of the co-ops in terms that surely can’t make this new plan to bail out commercial insurers look good:
Several co-ops counted on these bailout provisions to keep premiums artificially low. Because these premiums were artificially low and since many co-ops were planning on receiving the bailout, many could no longer cover their expenses.
In other words, exactly what Republicans plan to do with the rest of Obamacare–bailouts to keep premiums “artificially low!” Except Republicans don’t find this presumably much larger bailout to be a problem, since it’s helping getting rid of a law they don’t like. Unfortunately, it’s anybody’s guess what we’ll end up with in the long term. The new “plan” for repeal involves a three-year “transition period,” during which Obamacare will continue to function in some capacity, followed by its eventual replacement with…something else.
They haven’t figured that part out yet.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, made a similar point. “I think once it’s repealed, you will have hopefully fewer people playing politics and [instead] coming together to try to find the best policy,” McCarthy said, before adding that “a date certain that something’s going away . . . you know you have to have something done.” [Pols emphasis]
For the millions of Americans and thousands of Coloradans who have gotten covered through the Affordable Care Act, and millions more who have benefited from the law’s numerous reforms to coverage and care that have nothing to do with premiums, this is not reassuring in the least. As for Gardner, now so willing to swallow the “bailouts” that outraged him before they became part of a Republican plan?
Is there no one left to call out his absolute hypocrisy?